Top Gear in hot water over number plates


Popular BBC motoring show, Top Gear, has come under fire yet again after its crew were pelted by stones while filming an episode in Argentina, due to a number plate debacle.

Presenters Jeremy Clarkson, James and Richard Hammond were reportedly forced to leave their cars at the roadside and head to Chile three days in advance, after residents and war veterans took offence to the registration plate of Clarkson’s Porsche 928, which read H982FKL, suggested by some as referring to the Falklands war of 1982.

The plates, which initially went unnoticed, were first spotted near the end of a 2 160 km trek from the ski resort of Bariloche to the southern port of Ushuaia.

According to the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper, offence was also later taken to the digits on the plates of the Ford Mustang driven by Hammond and May’s Lotus Esprit which read 269 and 646. According local councillor, Juan Manuel Romano, these made reference to the 255 Britons and 649 Argentinians killed in war.

"Our position from the outset was to demand the withdrawal of the TV team from our province, which includes the Malvinas, by 8pm yesterday with the warning we'd organise a demonstration to reject their provocation if not," local war veteran association member Osvaldo Hilliar reportedly said, referring to the Falklands by their Spanish name.

"What they did was an offence that through no coincidence was committed in the capital of the Malvinas, without any regard to local feeling about this cause".

Top Gear Executive Producer, Andy Wilman, has denied that the number plates were fitted especially for the trip, stating that, "To suggest that this car was either chosen for its number plate, or that an alternative number plate was substituted for the original is completely untrue".

According to The Guardian newspaper, records of the silver 968 shows that it was first registered in 1991, putting it on an “H” plate. During the period August 1st 1983 to August 31 2001, UK registration plates consisted out of a single letter, three digits and a further three letters to determine when a car had been  registered. No mention of the plates on the Ford or Lotus had been made.

The Mail also alleges that the cars have since been located up in a shed near Ushuaia, having been stopped by War veterans at a road block.

"We share the opinion of the Ushuaia War Veterans Association, that this was intentional provocation by the Top Gear team, and agreed that they should leave Tierra del Fuego province by yesterday afternoon," local government chief Sergio Araque reportedly said.

Last month, Clarkson was placed on final warning by the broadcaster after using a racial term during the filming of a Top Gear special in Burma, and after an episode outtake showed up using the N-word while reciting the nursery rhyme Eeny-meeny-miny-moe.

No comment has yet been made any of the presenters.


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